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Does hot and sour soup come in a can?

Hot and sour soup is a popular Chinese soup that is commonly served as an appetizer at Chinese restaurants. It has a delicious blend of flavors including hot chili peppers, vinegar, white pepper and soy sauce. The soup is known for the contrast of spicy, sour and salty flavors. While this tasty soup is readily available at restaurants, many people wonder if they can purchase it in a shelf-stable can for quick and easy home enjoyment. Here is a closer look at whether hot and sour soup comes in a can.

What is Canned Soup?

Canned soups are soups that have been processed and sealed in an airtight can or jar. The canning process allows soup to be shelf-stable and safe to store at room temperature. Canning involves heating the soup to high temperatures which kills any bacteria and microorganisms. The soup is then sealed in a sterilized can. The lack of oxygen in the can prevents degradation over time. Popular varieties like chicken noodle, tomato and cream of mushroom are readily available in canned form from grocery stores and supermarkets. Canned soups are a convenient pantry staple that can be enjoyed when you don’t have time to make soup from scratch.

Canned soups typically have an ingredient list, nutrition facts and safe handling instructions printed on the label. They will also have a best by date indicating how long the soup will retain optimal flavor and quality when properly stored. Once opened, canned soups should be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated. Unopened canned soups can have a shelf life of 1-2 years or longer. The canning process allows soup to stay safe and shelf-stable at room temperature prior to opening.

Is Hot and Sour Soup Commonly Canned?

While many popular soup varieties are available in canned form, hot and sour soup is not as readily found in cans. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Unique flavor profile – Hot and sour soup has a very unique blend of chili pepper heat, vinegar tartness and savory umami flavors. These strong tastes may not appeal to all mainstream canned soup consumers.
  • Texture – Hot and sour soup has an array of soft and crunchy textures from ingredients like bamboo shoots, mushrooms and tofu. The canning process can diminish some of these varying textures.
  • Ingredient separation – The distinct ingredients and flavors of hot and sour soup tend to separate during the canning process. This can lead to inconsistent flavor and texture between spoonfuls.
  • Shorter shelf life – The vinegar content makes canned hot and sour soup more prone to degradation compared to other canned soup varieties. The shelf life is reduced.

Due to these factors, most major soup brands do not mass produce canned hot and sour soup. However, it is possible to occasionally find some specialty or small batch canned versions.

Are There Any Canned Varieties Available?

While not as widespread as other canned soups, it is possible to find some canned hot and sour soup options if you search for them. Here are a few brands that sometimes offer it in canned form:

  • Roland – This gourmet Chinese food brand sometimes has limited edition canned hot and sour soup. The soup contains bamboo shoots, tofu, mushrooms and eggs in a spicy broth.
  • Joyce Chen – This brand focused on Asian cuisine sometimes offers canned hot and sour soup. It includes wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, vinegar and soy sauce.
  • Mae-Ru – Specializing in Thai food products, Mae-Ru sometimes sells canned hot and sour soup with lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaf influences.
  • Asian/Chinese grocery stores – Some local Asian supermarkets may carry their own house brand canned hot and sour soup seasonally. This allows you to support a small business.

The availability of these canned versions tends to come and go. Your best bet is to check at specialty grocers focused on Asian cuisine to see if any current canned options are available. The soup aisle of mainstream supermarkets likely won’t have this variety regularly in stock.

What About Dry Soup Mixes?

Another option to enjoy hot and sour soup at home is to use a dry soup mix. These contain dehydrated vegetables, spices and seasoning that you rehydrate with hot water or broth. Some brands that offer a hot and sour soup mix include:

  • Knorr – Their Chinese Recipe Mix includes dried ingredients to make restaurant-style hot and sour soup.
  • Nongshim – Their Soon Veggie Noodle Soup mix can be prepared as a hot and sour soup with added vinegar and chili paste.
  • Sari Thai – They have a Hot & Sour Soup Mix inspired by Thai flavors like lemongrass and kaffir lime.

Dry soup mixes allow you to control the texture and spice level to your taste. Look for them near the canned soups or in the Asian specialty aisle of grocery stores.

Can You Make Your Own Canned Hot and Sour Soup?

If you are unable to find commercially canned hot and sour soup, another option is to can it yourself at home. This allows you to control the exact ingredients and flavor. Here is a summary of the canning process:

  1. Prepare hot and sour soup according to your favorite recipe. Make a large batch so you have plenty to can.
  2. Pour the soup into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top. Apply the lids and screw on the rings.
  3. Process the filled jars in a water bath canner for 35-40 minutes. This heats the contents to 250°F which is sufficient to kill bacteria.
  4. Carefully remove the jars and allow them to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. The lids should seal from the vacuum created.
  5. Check that the lids have properly sealed then store the canned soup in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.

Always follow proper canning methods and procedures to ensure safety. Home canned soup will keep for about a year when stored properly in the pantry. This allows you to enjoy hot and sour soup straight from your pantry whenever the craving strikes.

Tips for Reheating Canned Hot and Sour Soup

Whether you find a commercially canned version or can it yourself, follow these tips for the best results when reheating:

  • Transfer the soup to a saucepan instead of heating it directly in the can. This allows you to stir and incorporate the flavors.
  • Add a splash of vinegar and chili oil or chili flakes. This helps brighten the flavors which can dull during canning.
  • Simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout. Avoid boiling which can make the textures mushy.
  • You may need to thin the soup with a bit of water or broth as canning concentrates the flavors.
  • Add any additional desired garnishes just before serving such as scallions, cilantro or a dash of sesame oil.

With a little tweaking as it reheats, canned versions can come close to restaurant quality. The canning provides convenience while still allowing you to customize each bowl to your liking.


Although not as widely available as other canned soups, it is possible to occasionally find canned hot and sour soup from brands focusing on Asian cuisine. Specialty Asian grocers may carry options seasonally. If you can’t find a pre-made canned version, you can also can your own hot and sour soup at home to keep on hand. Add some simple finishing touches as you reheat each bowl to get that delicious restaurant flavor. With the tart, spicy and savory profile, hot and sour soup is worth seeking out in canned form for easy enjoyment in your own kitchen.